Monday, February 18, 2008

Tolerance

Today I find myself thinking about tolerance. Part of the process of getting older, it seems to me, is developing a sense of tolerance for the never ending series of slings and arrows that each day managed to nick and cut me enough to draw the blood but which are, at the same time, insufficient in their severity to actually drain me of the entirety of my life force. The drain is palpable, noticeable and in the most ironic sense, intolerable to me, my being, my way of life. Yet there seems to be no escape.

At what point does do I no long suffer the insults and prevarications of the unwise, the unready and the unwilling? Can I spend my whole life trying to amend the misunderstanding and avoid the deliberate misrepresentations that are given to me daily as if they were consensual agreements and plainly spoken truths, or am I obliged to tell the emperor that he has no clothes and that I will not be one of the fools who says nothing, or worse, nod in tacit agreement with his self-delusional falsehoods? When the mirror is held up and the rationalization there observed is 'duly noted' but disregarded, shall I support the illusion that it is the mirror cracked and the eye not blind?

The greatest gift my parents gave me was the education that today gives me at least the perspective to know that the rhetorical questions I pose are just that. I don't have the answers, obviously, not can I reasonably expect one, especially at this age. There is so much for me to learn as an individual organism, knowledge that comes in itself from knowledge. Knowing, as I have since I really began thinking, that all I really know is that I know nothing only drives me harder to understand, but it does nothing to prevent the pain of attachment. I know why old men should be mad indeed.

Still, thus poorly prepared, into the void I press. Though perhaps it ought not be surprising, I find often find, in what I perceive to be uncharted territory, a small cairn, another waypoint left by another lost traveler who no doubt perished from a similar sense of self-doubt only a few hundred yards further into the abyss. Of course, the sight of that deliberate warning is no real deterrent to me because I am that same fool. I know I will press on no matter what discoveries I make; no matter how trivial or rare the sights, I accept the fact that moments of enlightenment, if they come to me at all for, are to be found only on the well worn paths. Though certainly safe, they offer no choices of direction and little comfort for the fatigue that sets after so many footfalls.

Tolerance, it seems, is often more resignation than acceptance; recognition that the world does not change, only our ability to endure it.

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